Article by Alison Burton
Jessica Watson is an extraordinary young girl who followed her dreams and sailed solo around the world at the age of sixteen. Soon after her arrival back in Australia one of Melbourne’s leading psychologists warned that Jessica would now never have the life of a normal sixteen year old. She would be in the limelight and fame would be very difficult for her. This comment sadly reflects our Aussie addiction to mediocrity.
It’s the Tall Poppy Syndrome where we cut down anyone that succeeds too much. Teachers, parents (and child psychologists) expect children to conform to what is “normal”. We do so, to protect them from rejection and ensure that they belong. In doing so, we unintentionally hold our children back and stunt the growth of our society as a whole. In reality, by allowing others to be extraordinary, the whole poppy field will flourish. Would the world be a better place if Jessica was a “normal” sixteen year old and devoted her time to schoolwork, Facebook, TV and partying? (Not necessarily in that order).
Children are capable of more than we expect. In a much quoted study, a school teacher was told at the beginning of the year that her new class consisted of children who were all gifted. She was told that their IQ scores were in the genius category and she was to teach them accordingly. At the end of the year the children were reassessed. The second assessment showed significantly higher IQ scores for every child. The amazing thing is that at the beginning of the year that class was actually made up of children who were randomly chosen from the school. They were not gifted at all until they spent a year with a teacher who believed that they were. Children will live up to, or down to, our expectations. When supported and encouraged to explore their interests they will find their own gifts. Those gifts may not necessarily be academic and the way that our schools teach to fit the norm, may not necessarily reveal those gifts. Did you know that John Lennon and Paul McCartney failed music at school? Richard Branson is dyslexic; he can’t read a balance sheet but is brilliant with business ventures and people. Teachers and parents need to make room for diversity, greatness and passion. Every one of us comes into the world with a mission and it’s important to give children space and support to follow their dreams and reach their potential, whatever direction it takes them. In truth, every child is gifted.
“I have spread my dreams under your feet. Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.” William B Yeats
- Never ridicule a child’s dream
- Don’t limit your child because of your own limiting beliefs
- Don’t let your expectations put pressure on your child
- Look for your child’s unique passion and support it
- Do your best to never say no to something a child wants to do… explore together how they can achieve a dream safely and affordably.
By Alison Burton
Clinical Hypnotherapist and Owner of Simply Natural Therapies, Wellbeing Centre in East Doncaster